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Can Stomach Ulcers Be Cancerous?



Stomach ulcers CAN be cancerous.

More Info: Ulcers may become cancerous, but this has less to do with the ulceration and more to do with the particular strain of bacteria. The most common ulcers are peptic ulcers in the stomach and duodenum or colitis-associated ulcers in the intestines. They are usually not a threat to the health, but they may lead to a number of secondary complications including cancer.

Bacterial Infection

H. pylori is the most common bacteria associated with ulcers. Some researchers believe the infection is the method of causation. Others believe the bacteria presents an opportunistic infection only after the lining of the stomach is damaged by other means. Regardless of the cause of infection, there are many strains of bacteria. Each strain uses different mechanisms to defend itself from the immune system and take food from its competitors.

Cancer Causation Theory

One strain of H. pylori is positively identified in the biologic pathway of ulcer to cancer. Notably, researchers have not witnessed other strains acting along this pathway. The cag+ strain is known to inject its proteins into cells of the gastric lining. This allows it to reproduce the protein CagE, which in turn targets immune system proteins for destruction. Hence, the bacterium protects itself from immune attack, and this allows it to cause more damage.

Cancer-specific Ulcers and Treatment

Only ulcers in specific regions lead to cancer. Duodenal ulcers, which are among the most common, have not caused cancer. Stomach ulcers, on the other hand, are often experienced before a diagnosis of cancer. Colitis rarely leads to intestinal or colon cancer, but it does happen. Research shows that the strain of bacteria involved with the ulcer is a determining factor. So too is the extent of ulcerative damage. Ulcers and associated cancers present primarily in people over 30 years old.



“Peptic Ulcer: Peptic Disorders: Merck Manual Home Edition      .” THE MERCK MANUALS – Trusted Medical and Scientific Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2012. .

“Going From Ulcers To Cancer.” Science Daily: News & Articles in Science, Health, Environment & Technology. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2012. .

“Johns Hopkins: Symptoms|Remedies on Peptic Ulcers: Symptoms and Remedies.” Johns Hopkins Health Alerts: News on Prostate Cancer, Arthritis, Heart Disease, and other conditions which affect Health After 50. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2012. .

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